TW: grief, death of child, death of parent, abuse.
Mother’s Day is this weekend, and I wanted to boost the signal of this post I happened across when a friend posted it to facebook: An open letter to pastors: a non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day. The post is great, so please go and read it. Once you have, let’s meet back here, because I’d like to expand upon it a little bit.
So Amy there is writing to pastors and speaking about Mother’s Day in a church setting, which I’m sure is a very important topic for churchgoing folk! But the basic principles she’s articulating can and should apply widely. I do believe that people, religious or not, have an obligation to treat each other kindly. And as I discussed in an earlier post, the issue of parenthood is one that can be fraught with emotional turmoil.
There are so many reasons why a given person might not feel like celebrating on Mother’s Day. And they are the most ordinary, common things in the world. Did you know that 1 in 4 pregnancies in the US end in something other than a living baby (ie miscarriage, stillbirth, or post-natal death)? And almost everyone will, eventually, face Mother’s Day having lost their own mother. That these events are common makes them no less tragic. The fact that everyone suffers loss and everyone knows grief does not make your own grief any less agonizing.
This doesn’t mean that those of us who have been lucky enough not to face these problems yet shouldn’t celebrate our moms (or celebrate being a mom, if that’s you). Life does in fact go on, and no one expects you to completely rearrange your life to accommodate someone else’s grief. But kindness and decency suggest that it would be wise to consider how you can celebrate Mother’s Day (and this can be generalized to other holidays that celebrate specific relationships: Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc) in light of the fact that not everyone can. Just… keep it in mind. If you’re planning something quite public for your Mother’s Day celebration (or elaborate facebook updates about how awesome your mom or kids are), just consider how it might affect others. You might be surprised.
And if you do know of someone who has no reason to celebrate, or a good reason not to, someone who’s lost their child, or lost their mom, or is estranged from them: acknowledge it. Tell them you’re thinking of them. Let them know you haven’t forgotten. I’ve encountered a lot of people from abusive families who find they hate family-oriented holidays due to what they experience as relentless social pressure to love and forgive their families. If you know someone like this, they may appreciate hearing from you.
It’s such a simple thing, really, to acknowledge someone else’s pain for a moment. But it’s the loving thing to do, and really, what better way to honor the ideal of motherhood than to treat each other with love and kindness?